A Break from Monotony, Athirapally Waterfalls...
At last, I am on a train to Kerala, where I am heading to attend a marriage function of one of my friends. During the long night journey, traveling in a second class sleeper compartment, of the Indian Railways, sleep is difficult to procure. I sit by the window, and just take count of the invisible sights in the dark that pass by as the train races. In the mean while, I didn't realize and fell asleep. The mild rain that poured through the window railings provided the natural coolness.
Finally at around 4 A.M. early morning, the train reaches, Thrissur a town in the coastal state of Kerala. From the station, I ply on a local bus to reach another small town Chalakudy. The early morning freshness, and the luxuriant tropical scenery which unfolds as the bus speeds towards the destination, affords me perpetual delight. The sight of houses, palisaded by shady coconut trees, and plantain trees is in sharp contrast to the apartments that I see in my daily life where greenery in such expanse is a rare sight.
At around 8 A.M., after having my breakfast(idli, vada, sambar and coffee), I head towards Athirapally Waterfalls, located at the entrance to Sholayar ranges which is about 35 kms from Chalakudy. The journey to this place, traversing curvy tracks, throws some spectacular views of the valley, intertwined with lush green forest cover of Western Ghats and sizzling silver cascades. Though, I learnt from the locals that monsoon is the best time, to be here, but still this off-season visit was gratifying.
Once you reach the spot, one can see the source of the waterfall, before it plunges down with vigor.
To enjoy the waterfall at its very best, I walked across the riparian forests to reach the foot of the falls with my minimum mountaineering skills. The journey was a bit tiring, but the pleasant breeze revived me. As I stopped at regular intervals, I was able to locate some forest houses amidst the greenery which are maintained by the tourist department to attract visitors.
The breeze stirs a row of trees which line the entire stretch from the top till the foot of the waterfall. The farther I walk down, the more incredible sights opens up before me.
The ground around is covered with virgin bush, sometimes thickly overgrown. The cacophony of birds chirping in the woods gets diluted as I descend further down only to hear the roaring sound of the water as it dips with force. The enduring landscape reveals nature in all her own raw grandeur. There were families of grey and brown monkeys around jumping across the clumps of trees and garden chameleons too.
There were hardly any people at the foot of the fall, though there were some security men guarding this area. The air was covered in mist and visibility was hindered to take many photographs, as the tiny droplets carried by the wind just settled on the lens of my camera. I settle under a rock, and watch this inexplicable performance of the nature as the water falls down this 150 feet cliff, with a standing puzzle. (Please be careful, if you go down, as the area is bit slippery and the best way to be here is bare foot.)
The quite ripple of the waves came to my ears. It is a pleasant to catch the tang of a faint breeze which blows and carries with it tiny droplets, as if someone is using a water sprayer. The waves in force appear like liquid sapphire.
After spending a couple of hours near the base of the fall, I made my return trip to reach the top again, traversing the same path that I followed for downhill trek. Once I settle near the top, I was completely exhausted and was hankering for some water or a cool drink. There was a humble soul who was busy constructing, a roof with leaves, who rushed down, seeing a visitor near his make-shift stall and offered me two tender coconuts.
After I feel a bit energetic, after sipping in two tender coconuts, I board the bus that would take me back to Chalakudy. As the bus journeys through the valley, the hills vanish behind in the curtains of the forest. The sound of the water pouring, gurgling and trickling diminishes and all I can see from the window of the bus, are few streams which run brown as Indian Railways tea.
Places, people, insights, colors and above all experiences. All these sum up what traveling is all about, don't you feel so?
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